Tag Archives: Nutrition

Weekend Reading, 6.25.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

This past week, I came across Luke O’Neil’s reflections on his struggle with exercise bulimia in Esquire. The article made me grateful that more is being written about (a) exercise bulimia (I linked to a CNN article in which my friend Abby shared her story a couple weeks ago) and (b) the need for a more gender-neutral discourse about eating disorders in our society. O’Neil sums it up well: “[A]s much as our generations-long assumptions about how men are supposed to behave and feel have changed,” he writes, “it’s still out of the ordinary for a dude to turn to his buddy and say, ‘I’m sad because I feel fat today.’”

O’Neil opens the article with a memory from a trip to Mexico with his wife:

The view from atop the pyramids is breathtaking. From the ruins of Monte Albán, with the verdant valleys of Oaxaca spread out at your feet, it’s hard not to imagine what the Zapotec people saw when they built these structures almost three thousand years ago. Around the great plaza at the center of the ancient city runs a series of tunnels to tombs, altars, and courts for playing ball games. Throughout you’ll find cave paintings and carved stones, including the Danzantes, or “dancers,” believed to depict mutilated sacrificial victims whose bodies were destroyed so the culture could thrive. I can picture it all now. I just wish I had been there to see it in person.
 I had to ask my wife what it was like to visit, because at the time I was making a pilgrimage to Gimnasio Calipso Centro Histórico, one of about a dozen fitness centers in Oaxaca City. The views from that site, which I scouted out weeks before our trip, weren’t quite as remarkable as from Monte Albán. It was a shambling two-story structure painted aqua blue. It looked like a gym. But when you have an eating disorder like mine, no view is beautiful enough to override your compulsion to purge.

One of the more difficult things to reconcile about an ED history is the sense of robbed time. I was highly functioning throughout my disorder, which means that it didn’t stop me from going out and doing things. It’s just that “doing them” rarely involved my being able to give myself over fully to an experience. I traveled, but I spent a lot of my travel time calculating precisely what I’d eat and where I’d get it and when it would be consumed; I never suffered from exercise bulimia, but a lot of my decisions about where I’d go and stay involved proximity to a gym. I dined out with friends, but I spent hours scrutinizing menus beforehand and strategizing about how I could pair the least calorically dense options together. When it came time to eat, I spent much of the meal trying to stave off or manage anxiety about what I was eating, rather than settling into a good conversation or savoring my food.

O’Neil does such a good job of capturing how much of everyday life can be lost when one is constantly fighting against worries and compulsions. As he makes clear, attempting to appease one’s compulsive behaviors is usually a zero sum game. The more you try to satisfy the eating disorder’s demands, the more devastating it feels to slip up just a little:

Today, I will run and lift weights, despite instructions from my doctors to take it easy this year as I deal with a back injury. I will run until my knees ache and my back stiffens, and I will manage the ensuing pain with too much Advil. Being skinny, even with back pain, feels a lot better than being chubby. And then, once I feel I have earned it, I will eat a large meal, thereby resetting the cycle of guilt, and begin the process all over again tomorrow. It’s a problem as destructive as any other type of addiction, which, if we’re being forthcoming, I also have plenty of experience with.

Recovery was a really long road for me, thanks to my own stubbornness, my attachment to the disease, and especially my attachment to the feelings of power, control, and specialness that it gave me. I had a lot of tools at my disposal, though, including family and friends who knew what was up, a therapist who gave me gentle but persistent challenges, and a good number of cultural resources–books, blogs, websites–that helped me to recognize and acknowledge the depth of the illness. My healing process might have been an even greater uphill battle had I been without these sources of support and encouragement.

That’s precisely the situation that many people find themselves in if their experience of disordered eating somehow defies cultural norms or expectations. O’Neil focuses on the fact that disordered eating is still a relatively taboo issue for a lot of men–even men who are relatively open about their inner lives:

As someone who has no problem sharing all manner of personal information about himself online every day, and who certainly doesn’t consider himself one to conform to outdated gender stereotypes, writing this—even in an email to my editors—felt embarrassing in a way I was unfamiliar with. It felt like coming out as a crazy person, admitting I had lost control of myself. People will assure you they do not lose respect for others suffering from issues like this, but it’s a hard bias to overcome.
“People might think, ‘I’m a man and I struggle with these insecurities and self-esteem and self-worth issues, and I put a lot of onus on my body to give me that self-esteem, so does that make me a narcissist or an egomaniac?’” Walen [a spokesman for the National Eating Disorders Association] says. “No, it makes you someone who has a brain disease that is actually a lot more common than most people are willing to admit. I think it’s harder for guys to say we have a feminine-normalized issue, just from our culture saying man up.”

I’d say that the normalization of eating disorders isn’t only about gender, but also about class, race, age, shape, personality type, and many other factors. It makes sense for health care professionals to identify high risk groups, but not at the expense of our pushing a more inclusive understanding of EDs and how they show up from person to person.

O’Neil wraps up with a plea for us to continue speaking up and speaking out about the issues, encouraging anyone and everyone who’s struggling to feel unashamed about asking for support. I love how candidly he concludes:

[F]or what it’s worth, here is me speaking up. I recognize the symptoms in myself. You may recognize some of them in yourself. I don’t know that I can offer any real help, but I can say this: You’re not alone, and it’s okay to talk about. You’re not going to die from the embarrassment. Your eating disorder, on the other hand, might do the trick if you let it.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with exercise compulsion—or with food-related behaviors that defy ED stereotyping but are nevertheless a source of concern—perhaps O’Neil’s words will resonate. I echo his assertion that the discomfort of acknowledging a problem and seeking a helping hand are very real, but the cost of keeping quiet is so much higher.

I hope you’ve all had a restful weekend and that this Sunday finds you preparing for a good week ahead! I’m still in the midst of my final “summer A” term push, but the end is in sight, and I’m looking forward to a little 4th of July breather before my summer B class gets underway. For now, these awesome recipe links have been a very welcome source of study distraction 🙂


This radish salad is so intriguing: I love the combo of steamed and raw veggies, plus the flavorful additions of kimchi and sesame.

Cauliflower rice leaves me less than satisfied a lot of the time (I usually end up mixing it with regular rice), but I’m just loving Sara’s curried cauliflower rice and chickpea sauté. It’s a perfect light supper for summer weeknights.

Danielle and Cameron’s strawberry and cucumber salad with mint is everything summer. I love balsamic reduction, and I bet it works so nicely here.

Fuel for my love affair with chickpeas: Julie’s awesome sonoma chickpea salad. This would be great with toast or crackers, or stuffed into a pita for lunch.

I’ve been looking for new recipes to make with rhubarb, and Emily’s strawberry rhubarb crumble is calling my name. (Preferably with a big scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream.)


1. A powerful investigation of a tuberculosis outbreak in Alabama and why it’s proving difficult to arrest.

2. A lyrical and informative look at the importance of the moon and lunar light to some of the earth’s life forms and their processes.

3. I’ve known that people could become allergic to meat, but I had no idea that it could be in response to a tick bite! Apparently the long star tick is spreading an allergy to galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, or alpha-gal, which is one of the few protein-linked polysaccharides.

4. I liked RD Jill Weisenberger’s article on helping to protect kids from familiar pressure and goading when it comes to food. It’s often the case that very well-intentioned relatives will sidestep parents’ wishes for what their kids eat; this can be true when it comes to wholesome versus less-wholesome foods (which is Weisenberger’s focus), but most plant-based eaters can attest that it also happens when it comes to eating vs. not eating animal products. It can become a big source of tension at holidays or other family gatherings.

Weisenberger’s tips for staging a respectful dialog about this issue are worth reading if you’re raising vegan or vegetarian kids and feel that your family isn’t always supportive or respectful. They’re also worth a read from an intuitive eating perspective, as one of Weisenberger’s key points is that pushing foods on kids can encourage them to eat to please others, rather than in response to their own hunger cues and cravings.

5. Finally, Luke O’Neil opens up about exercise bulimia.

That’s it for this week. I’m looking forward to my nutritional epidemiology final on Wednesday, after which I can spend some quality time catching up on life and cooking. See you soon.


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Kathryne Taylor’s Best-Ever Guacamole with Toasted Pepitas & Chipotle Sauce

Kathryne Taylor's Best-Ever Guacamole with Toasted Pepitas & Chipotle Sauce | The Full Helping

“Guacamole wasn’t on the original recipe list for this book. Too basic, I thought.”

That’s what Kathryne Taylor–also known as Kate from her vibrant blog, Cookie and Kate–has to say about the origins of this recipe. She goes on to describe how she perfected her guacamole game by adding a couple of key flavor/texture boosters, like salted toasted pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of spicy adobo sauce. Her best-ever guacamole with toasted pepitas & chipotle sauce is the result, and it’s totally worthy of the title.

Kathryne Taylor's Best-Ever Guacamole with Toasted Pepitas & Chipotle Sauce | The Full Helping

The guac is from Kate’s new book, Love Real Food, which I’ve been savoring page by page this month. The book features over 100 creative vegetarian recipes made with whole foods ingredients. It’s also packed with hands-on instruction, bold photos, and crowd-pleasing meal ideas. If you’re a fan of Kate’s blog, then you’ll love the book; it’s true to her spirit in every way, from tone to imagery to recipe style. Kate’s voice is equal parts sweet, sassy, humorous, and approachable: she’s a great guide for someone who’s new to plant-based cooking.

Kate starts the book with a quick primer in working with whole, plant-based foods, then talks readers through ingredients and offers some simple culinary how-to. The recipes that follow are colorful, seasonal, and they always feature a ton of fresh produce (Kate’s blog has a monthly farmers market and cooking guide, which I love, and the book builds naturally on her seasonal emphasis).

Some of the recipes I’ve bookmarked or made so far are the kale and quinoa salad with crisp celery, plumped cranberries, and lemon dressing, the outrageous herbaceous chickpea salad (which I’ve made twice now, and it’s every bit as good as it sounds), the Mexican roasted veggie bowl with beer beans, and the hearty lentil minestrone. I’m also totally smitten with Kate’s desserts, especially her easy-to-make chocolate oatmeal cookies.

Kathryne Taylor's Best-Ever Guacamole with Toasted Pepitas & Chipotle Sauce | The Full Helping

One of my favorite features of the book is smart, detail-oriented tips that Kate offers with each recipe. I’ve made so many batches of guacamole over the years, experimenting with different proportions and styles and mix-ins. But Kate gave me some new pointers and ideas, like using a pastry cutter to mash the avocados (now that I’ve done it this way, I probably won’t do it any other way–it’s so easy, and it gives the guac a perfect texture). She also sold me on using white onion instead of red, which is what I’ve used in the past. It’s sweeter and more subtle, and in her recipe, it’s perfectly balanced with the other ingredients.

What makes the guacamole so great, though, is the use of spice, including coriander and chipotle en adobo. It takes the guacamole to the next level, and it’s indicative of Kate’s approach overall, which is to take beloved recipes, create them with real food ingredients, and then kick the flavors up with confident seasoning.

Kathryne Taylor’s Best-Ever Guacamole with Toasted Pepitas & Chipotle Sauce

Recipe type: side dish, dip
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Kathryne Taylor
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 4 cups
  • ¼ cup raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
  • ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 medium avocados, halved and pitted
  • ½ cup finely chopped white onion (about ½ small onion)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded, deribbed, and finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice (from about 1 ½ limes), or more if needed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce, from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo*
  1. To toast the pepitas, combine the pepitas and olive oil in a small skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the pepitas turn golden on the edges and start making little popping noises, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  2. Using a spoon, scoop the flesh of the avocados into a low serving bowl, discarding any bruised, browned areas. Using a pastry cutter, potato masher, or fork, mash up the avocado until it reaches your desired texture (I like my guacamole to have some texture, so I stop mashing once there are just small chunks remaining).
  3. Promptly add the onion, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, coriander, and salt. Stir to combine. Taste and add additional salt (I often add up to ½ teaspoon more) and/or lime juice, if needed.
  4. Top the guacamole with the toasted pepitas and drizzle the adobo sauce over the top. To store leftovers, press plastic wrap against the surface of the guacamole and refrigerate for later. Leftovers will keep well for 3 days. If the top turns light brown, just scoop off the browned bits and you should find bright green guacamole underneath.
*Look for canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the international/Hispanic aisle of well-stocked grocery stores. If you can’t find them, use a chipotle-flavored hot sauce.

The recipe makes a good amount, which means it’s perfect for sharing or using as an appetizer. You can definitely cut it in half, though it might be worthwhile making the whole batch just so that there’s more to savor. It’s so good: perfectly seasoned, just the right texture (not too chunky and not too mashed), and very tangy. I’m really glad Kate shared it after all.

You can use the guac in any of the traditional ways–for serving with corn chips, using in burritos, etc.–or you can use it to make a killer serving of avocado toast.

Kathryne Taylor's Best-Ever Guacamole with Toasted Pepitas & Chipotle Sauce | The Full Helping

I was out of regular pepitas at home when I made the guac, but I had Austrian pumpkin seeds, which are bigger and darker than the regular ones. Definitely less traditional, but I really liked their toothsome texture!

If you’re curious about Love Real Food and you’d like a chance to experience the book for yourself, good news: I’m sharing a copy of the cookbook in today’s giveaway. Simply enter below for a chance to win. The giveaway is open to US and Canadian readers, and I’ll announce the winner a week from today.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, and big thanks to Kate for sharing her passion for produce and plant-based eating with all of us.

I’m wrapping up a long week, but my first summer term is finally inching to a close (I’ll be finishing up officially on Tuesday). I’ve got some studying to do this coming weekend, but I hope to squeeze some cooking and outdoor time in, too. And I’ll be back with the usual roundup on Sunday. Happy (almost) weekend!


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Weekend Reading, 6.18.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I still remember my first semester of Orgo as a post-bacc student, when my friend Erin sat with me in the library and did her best to explain the concept of chirality. She stretched her palms in front of me and asked me to imagine a mirror plane between them: right and left were mirror images of each other. She folded her palms together to bring the point home. “But no matter what,” she said, “I can’t stack my right palm on top of my left and have them match up. They’re not superimposible.”

It took me a while to grasp the concept, but chirality would keep coming back again and again–not only in Orgo, but in future classes. I learned that the chirality of molecules has major implications in synthetic chemistry: famously and tragically, the drug Thalidomide was chiral, and when it was first sold for nausea and sedation, it was a racemic mixture (that is, some versions contained the molecular equivalent of a right hand, the others a left). One of the two compounds was a teratogen, or an agent that can harm a developing fetus.

This week, the New York Times takes a look at the role that scientist Louis Pasteur–most famous for having invented the process of pasteurization for milk and wine, and also for having developed vaccines for rabies and anthrax–played in articulating the concept of chirality. It’s not the discovery we tend to associate with him and his body of work, but it’s one of his most critical, since chirality is now such a foundational concept in organic chemistry.

Pasteur came to discover–or really, to see–chirality when he was working with paratartaric acid, a compound that results from the over-boiling of wine. After examining how paratartaric acid refracted different types of light, Pasteur postulated that the compound had both left- and right-handed crystals and that its molecular structure also demonstrated handedness. It was an observation that had eluded at least one other researcher who was trying to understand why paratartaric acid had the ability to rotate beams of polarized light.

When I took Orgo, it seemed to me that certain students were more easily able to “see” or imagine molecular orientation than others (“I just see it” was my friend Dave’s response when I asked him to explain how he was so good at classifying reactions as SN1 or SN2). We could all manage to memorize effectively, and committing the material to memory again and again was probably enough to carry us through the course. But some of my peers could visualize the material in a way I couldn’t. Their ability to see molecules–to imagine how they’d move and turn and collide with each other in space–was a huge asset.

Interestingly, Pasteur may have been able to see chirality because of his previous experience in the arts. Joseph Gal, a chemist and professor emeritus at the University of Colorado, notes that Pasteur had studied visual arts in his youth and remained closely connected to them even as he settled into a career as a chemist. Pasteur even taught classes on how chemistry could be used in fine arts training, and he carried a notebook in which he recorded his evaluations of fine art he’d visited.

Gal has uncovered a letter Pasteur wrote in which he examines mirror image transposition in fine portraiture, and he suggests that the chemist’s powers of artistic observation may have allowed him to observe handedness in crystals that had eluded other researchers. In other words, the artistic training of his youth sensitized Pasteur to space and orientation in a way that enhanced his capacities as a scientist later on.

I love Gal’s theory. I think it touches on the idea that all of us, whether we’re aware of it or not, develop powers of observation that are unique to our histories and experience. When I was just starting my post-bacc, I felt certain that I had absolutely no skill or training that could possibly help me in the hard sciences. Later on, once I’d gotten my sea legs, I actually came to realize that much of my previous education–having studied languages, for example–was a boon.

Past experience can come back to us in all sorts of unexpected ways. My earliest childhood education (nursery school and pre-K) was in the Waldorf school system, which emphasizes the visual arts strongly, and my own mother is an art teacher. I used to assume that I simply hadn’t inherited my mom’s unique visual orientation–her ability to “see” things in the shadows on sidewalks or the way light hit the side of a building. The older I get, though, the more I realize that I’m visually oriented in my own way. It doesn’t manifest in drawing or sketching, but it does find expression in the way I imagine dishes and plate food.

We can never really predict how exposure to something at one point in time will return to us later on. I often find that years need to pass before I can really look back at my experience and see how seeds were planted early on that bore fruit at a later time and place. But I think the Times article is a good reminder of the value of diverse education at an early age, especially arts education. And it speaks to the unexpected and circuitous ways in which memory can circle back to us at precisely the moment we need it–whether we’re grappling with a difficult problem or trying to unlock a mystery of some kind.

Big thanks to writer Louise Fabiani for having put this article on my radar! I hope you’ll all enjoy it, along with the other links this week. First, of course, some seasonal food links to savor.


What’s better than one batch of hummus? What about six batches, each with a beautiful, distinctive color? Ryan and Adam of Husbands that Cook share a hummus base recipe, then show you how to add color and flavor to the basic template with roasted vegetables and other fun mix-ins. (I tried to guess how each batch had been colored before I read through the post, and while I was right about one of them, I was totally wrong about the others!)

I’m loving this summery, vibrant Dakos salad from Ania of Lazy Cat Kitchen. It features torn crispbread (at this point, I’m already sold, since I love bready salads), olives, lots of sweet tomatoes, and soft vegan cheese. So perfect for the season.

Nothing beats a bowl of noodles, and Traci’s garlicky asparagus, mushroom, and bok choy noodle bowls are packed with umami and flavor. Be sure to follow Traci’s tip on using tofu in place of egg for her vegan version of the recipe. I love the super simple sauce idea here: just a mix of broth, sriracha, and tamari.

I’ve never tried a vegan ceviche recipe before, but I’m feeling super inspired by Cara’s tropical vegan ceviche, which is made with hearts of palm and jicama, as well as plenty of fresh fruit. She pairs it with a tangy batch of seared tofu for a perfect, easy summer supper.

Finally, I’m loving Abby’s vegan lime sugar cookies. They seem like a sugar cookie/snickerdoodle hybrid to me, all jazzed up with the tangy flavor of fresh lime. They’d be such a great treat to serve with iced tea on a hot afternoon.


1. First, Joanna Klein on how Pasteur’s artistic insight changed chemistry.

2. Also on the topic of space and orientation and drawing: Quartz has a cool article about the differences in how people draw circles around the world. Apparently most Americans draw counterclockwise, though before I got to that bit–when I was just doing as the article asked and scribbling a circle quickly on a piece of paper–I learned that I always draw clockwise. The article goes on to explain how difference in language and reading, among other factors, might influence shape-drawing.

3. A smart, powerful op-ed in StatNews about medical over-treatment and excess care.

4. An interesting read for anyone who’s interested in nutrigenomics, or the study of how nutrition and genes interact.

5. Finally, an incredible long-form article about the secret life of urban crows in Seattle. I knew next to nothing about crows before I read it, and I hadn’t really thought of them as a cosmopolitan bird species. I learned that crows recognize human faces and hold grudges for human misdeeds–grudges that can even be passed from one generation to the next, if crow babies witness their parents being mistreated. Crows also show great appreciation for humans who treat them well, leaving them little gifts that can include candy, keys, and coins.

Many years ago, I edited a book about wildlife in Central Park. It was my first real glimpse into the lives of urban-dwelling, non-domesticated, non-human animals. This article reminds me of that book; it paints such a vivid and illuminating portrait of how, even in decidedly non-wild settings, we always share our physical space with members of other species. And we develop unique forms of symbiosis with them, whether we’re fully aware of it or not.

Enjoy, and happy Sunday (happy Father’s Day, too, to those of you who are celebrating). I may be a little quiet for the next week or so as I head into the final stretch of my first summer term, but I’ve got a new cookbook review in store this week, and a delicious, simple recipe to go along with it.


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Easy Spanish Quinoa & Chickpeas

Easy Spanish Quinoa & Chickpeas | The Full Helping

It’s hard to believe that my first summer term will be over in just a couple weeks. I knew two summer classes would be a lot to juggle when I registered, but I was quite prepared for how busy the end of May and early June have been. The great thing about summer class, though, is that it flies by, and I’ve had enough downtime to get done what needs doing outside of class. Not quite as much time to play in the kitchen as I’d like (I miss baking!), but I’m taking care of meal prep and fueling well.

This simple quinoa and chickpea dish has been a staple for me. In two weeks I’ve made it three times, which means it’s a keeper. It’s nearly as easy as preparing a plain batch of quinoa, but the paprika and tomato flavors give it character and make it adaptable for many different meals. I’ve used it in bowls, in packed lunches, and piled into soft tacos. I’ve mixed it with a frozen vegetable medley and a killer sauce (most often my cashew queso) and called it dinner; I’ve also used it as a side dish, serving it with baked tofu and some sort of green.

In spite of the short ingredient list, the quinoa packs a nice flavor punch. The dish is a little salty, a little spicy, and pretty smoky. It’s also got a touch of umami, thanks to the tomatoes, which you can boost with some nutritional yeast or by adding mushrooms to the recipe. Garlic is another possible addition, and the spices can be varied to suit your taste.

Easy Spanish Quinoa & Chickpeas | The Full Helping

Easy Spanish Quinoa & Chickpeas

Recipe type: main dish, side dish
Cuisine: gluten free, soy free, tree nut free, no oil option
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 4 servings
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (substitute water for sautéing to make oil free)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 1½ cups low sodium vegetable broth (substitute water)
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • Red wine or apple cider vinegar, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Chopped parsley or cilantro (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear. Add the quinoa, broth, tomato sauce and paste, paprika, chili powder, oregano, salt, and chickpeas to the pot. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 13-15 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all of the cooking liquid. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and allow it to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar and crushed red pepper flakes to taste, adjust seasonings as needed, and fold in some fresh herbs, if you like.
Leftover quinoa will keep for up to four days in an airtight container in the fridge. It can be frozen for 4-6 weeks.

 Easy Spanish Quinoa & Chickpeas | The Full Helping

Who knew that adding tomato sauce to cooking water could be such a game changer? If you like, you can use the same formula with regular rice (which will cook up just as quickly) or with long grain brown rice, which will take about 35 minutes. I’m also wondering if the recipe would work with millet, and plan to try it soon. But for now, I’m really happy with the quinoa. And right after calling myself out on my chickpea usage, more chickpeas! (I think that’s three recipes in a row?!) Fortunately, you guys don’t seem to mind 🙂

OK, friends, it’s back to nutritional epidemiology for me. Excited to check in soon for the weekend roundup. Have a great rest of the week.


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Weekend Reading, 6.11.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I don’t have many photos of myself. If you were to enter my apartment, you’d find a few framed pictures of my mom and one of me at age eight or nine, all pigtails and missing front teeth, smiling directly to the camera. I love the lack of inhibition in the photo, the sweet confidence. I hang onto the image as a reminder that as a child, I was unashamed of being seen. I came into life with this quality, and it’s always there, no matter the tendency to get buried.

I’ve grown so much when it comes to body-respect, but I haven’t shaken off discomfort with having my picture taken. Even now, halfway into my thirties, I tend to squirm and grimace whenever a group photo is taken. I’m working on it. It’s actually not the reaction that troubles me so much as the absence of an archive, a dynamic record of my life. We take photos to capture moments, and many of my experiences have gone unrecorded.

The exception, of course, is food. I once joked to a friend that I have no visual captures of my college graduation, trips I’ve taken, relationships I’ve entered and exited, or gatherings I’ve been a part of. But if you’d like to know about what I’ve eaten for the last decade, there’s plenty to see.

This is actually less superficial than it sounds. The archive of food images I’ve amassed through blogging and Instagram say a lot about where I’ve been and where I’m going; they may say more, ultimately, than other types of photos would. They’re all animated by a passion for food, but as I scroll through them I see a process of evolution from hesitant and constrained habits to generous and inclusive ones. I see more sensitivity to cravings, more playfulness, more variety, more fun. I see the daily meals of a person who has learned–is learning, I should say–to listen to her appetites.

My growth with food is reflective of deeper shifts: figuring out how to trust myself. Shaking off walls of shame and fear. Realizing that not every decision or choice has to be a big deal. Gaining the tools I need to bounce back when things I perceive as being “mistakes” happen. Welcoming variety and change–inconsistency, even!–into my life. Learning to be curious and exploratory. It’s all connected.

This week, NPR reviewed Susan Bright’s new book, Feast for the Eyes, which tells the story of food photography in America. Bright describes how the “way that food has been photographed over the years is a reflection on the times we live in.” The article shares some particularly representative images from the collection, and it touches upon Bright’s analysis of how “our relationship with food has always gone beyond the merely ediblewhether it’s humorous, artistic or political.”

It’s a really interesting read for food bloggers, food lovers, or anyone who has had the impulse to capture a meal or a table setting in order to remember what really mattered about a moment in time. If you do check the article out, you’ll see that it details how photography style has changed with changing culture and times, from sumptuous still life portraits to highly technical, close-up captures. I hope you enjoy it, and the other links this week.

But first, some enticing food photos and recipes.


I mentioned recently that I’m having friends over more often, which means that I’ve got my eyes peeled for recipes that are good for sharing, making in advance, etc. All of this week’s recipes are party-friendly, starting with these beautiful sweet potato tempura rolls with avocado and teriyaki glaze. Erin’s recipes always look so elegant and professional!

Another great appetizer option: Melissa’s smoky tofu vegetarian potstickers.

I’ve tried and failed to make polenta pizza several times now, which means that I need the guidance of a really great recipe. I think this is the one: Malin’s polenta pizza with tofu almond cheese and grilled oyster mushrooms. I’m super intrigued by the idea of tofu almond cheese.

These springtime veggie tostadas are so easy, but they’re definite crowd-pleasers. They feature hummus, shaved Brussels sprouts, peas, and cilantro. Fresh, bright, and perfect for whipping up at the last minute.

Finally, I’ve been having all of the heart eyes for Jackie’s insane-looking swirled PB & J brownies. I might make these for friends, but I can’t promise how many I’d actually share 🙂


1. First, NPR’s review of Feast for the Eyes, complete with a few iconic images from the book.

2. A thoughtful, intelligent reflection on how failing in public settings can teach doctors about the importance of humility.

The very idea of failure in medical practice is complicated: the stakes are so high that we don’t always like to think about the very real possibility that doctors will make mistakes. The author’s point is that mistakes will be made simply because doctors are human beings. Medical training and culture should acknowledge this fact and create a meaningful dialog about vulnerability and learning from error. I particularly like author Bryan Vartabedian’s observation that:

The growth that comes from facing one’s limitations can’t happen alone. It requires a community intentionally committed to cultivating the soft skills of introspection and humility. This kind of realization and public exposure of our own shortcomings can be jarring to a young professional mind. Training environments that breed disregard for the process of human adaption to failure do their part to help young doctors miss the opportunity of learning about vulnerability.

I think that this observation can apply to many different types of professional training grounds, not just medicine.

3. A short but sweet reflection by an author who learned that her grandmother’s famous handmade birds, which were used for years to decorate the family Christmas tree, were in fact crafts that had been created while her grandmother was being treated in a psychiatric facility. Laura Johnson goes on to reflect about how powerful crafting can be for those who suffer from depression and anxiety.

4. Such an interesting article about what mummies—specifically, the bodies of 23 mummified human beings who lived in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries—can teach us about diseases as they presented in past centuries. I was interested to read that atherosclerosis has been detected in more than a third of the mummies, who were found in Lithuania about five years ago. It’s a reminder that heart disease has been with us for a long time, even if its prevalence today is unique.

5. On a similar topic, this article details a new project to explore and learn from the remains of the elusive Indus civilization in northern India and Pakistan. The photos, especially the one of the Indus system of public waterworks, are pretty incredible, and the article makes interesting observations about how the Indus people may have been uniquely well-equipped and prepared to deal with climate change and extreme weather.

It’s early on this Sunday, and I’m wishing all of you enjoyment and rest as the weekend wraps up. Lots of coursework in front of me this week, so I may be quiet for a couple days, but when I come back it’ll be with a new quinoa recipe that’s on heavy rotation in my kitchen. Have a good one!


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35 | The Full Helping

Those of you who have been reading for a while know that I usually post some reflections on my birthday; it’s become an annual tradition that allows me to reflect a little on the terrain of the past twelve months.

I guess it’s no surprise that this year’s birthday post is permeated by heartache. My feelings about the breakup are less raw than they were when I first mentioned it a couple months ago, but I’ve been surprised by how non-linear the healing process is. A wise friend described this to me as “emotional weather,” and I can’t think of a better way of summing up how I’ve been feeling. There have been breaks in the clouds–moments of clarity and insight, moments of strength, glimpses of an open horizon in front of me–but there are still a lot of stormy days and weeks. It’s hard to predict how long they’ll last or how turbulent they’ll be.

One upside of this–and with having weathered depression last spring–is that I’ve developed a capacity to flow with ups and downs. A year ago at this time, I truly couldn’t predict when anxiety or dark moods were going to swoop in and take me out of commission for a couple days. I learned how not to panic when it happened and how to stand back up when the spell had passed. This took practice. Coming back to life after a tough bout meant resisting my own tendency to write a story about how things would never get better. It meant having faith that, if I could stop tensing up against the sadness, I’d find myself in a different place sooner or later.

I draw upon that faith all the time these days, in a different context. I have faith that I won’t always feel bereft in the way I do right now; that at some point I’ll start to be able to visualize the future again–and maybe it will be a more flexible and accommodating vision than some of the ones I’ve concocted in the past. I’m all too prone to clinging to expectations about how my life will shape up, in spite of the fact that experience invites me time and time again to loosen the grip.

That’s been one of the hardest parts of this breakup: admitting to myself how much I’d come to count on the relationship and its place in my future. I’ve always prided myself on independence and autonomy, always thought of myself as someone who would know how to guard against becoming too reliant on someone else. What a surprise it is to realize how badly I wanted to merge. I’m still so angry at the relationship for having made me aware of this longing for companionship that I didn’t even know I had. Cracks in the foundation must have been very deep for things to have ended the way they did, but I didn’t see it coming, at least not until the very end, and that’s partly because I didn’t want to.

I know that the wound will heal and that time will help me to better understand the loss. I hope that this relationship and its rupture will ready me for a different and more fulfilling experience of partnership one day. I’m not there yet. I’m still grieving, still working to understand, still cycling in and out of regret and self-admonishment. I tell myself that the regret is pointless, but that doesn’t stop it from showing up. It does allow me to not be engulfed by it, and that’s something.

And of course, there have been shifts. There always are. In the last month especially I’ve found myself getting physically stronger. Back in March and April the mourning process seemed to have lodged in my body; I felt so weighted down and heavy with inertia (a feeling I recognize well from depression). I’m moving quicker these days, more purposefully. Sleep is still unpredictable, but I have more energy. This sensation of my body springing back to life reminds me a lot of anorexia recovery, when I regained physical strength before my spirit had healed. It gives me hope; it tells me that the process is underway.

Three years ago on my birthday, I wrote about switching directions after I didn’t get into medical school. It was a very different experience and type of loss, but back then, just as now, I found myself adapting to things not turning out the way I’d planned. I left that experience deeply humbled. I’d entered the post-bacc with a lot of confidence in my own intellect and work ethic and drive, only to realize that I was chasing a dream to which my ego was very well suited, but my mind and spirit were not.

I’m feeling humbled in a different way today–not intellectually, but in my heart. In the last year I’ve come to realize how deep is my craving for connection. I’ve been able to admit that what I called “commitment-phobia” in the past was in fact a form of guarding against my own hunger for intimacy. I’ve had to rely on loved ones in a way I couldn’t imagine doing only a few years ago–asking for support without any pretense of being able to tough it out on my own. I’m thirty-five years old today, and I still have a lot to learn about relationships and love. But the learning process is happening all the time.

It’s still hard for me to open up about this breakup in person, even to friends. Many of the things people have said to me in a spirit of consolation have inadvertently hurt my feelings or made me feel worse, which is nobody’s fault. I’m hypersensitive right now, and anyway, what’s the “right” thing to say about the loss of love? We all know how painful it is and that time tends to be the best healer. For now, being able to write about the experience has been a tremendous source of relief, so I’m more grateful than ever for this space.

If this year has taught me anything, it’s how not to things for granted. I say “thank you”–to myself, out loud, in prayer, in writing–every day, often many times over, for things big and small. I’m thankful for everyday sensations, like cool breeze on my body when I step outside in the morning, sun on my face as the weather warms up, or stretching my limbs in bed when I wake up. I’m thankful for the pleasure and nourishment of food, such an anchor in my life. I’m thankful for the goodness of people around me, for the generosity of strangers, for the patience of family and friends. I’m thankful for laughter, music, and words. I’m thankful to live in this body of mine. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

That’s 35. It’s not the post I thought I’d be writing this year, but then, these posts never really are. And I’m finally coming to understand that there’s nothing wrong with that.

With love and thanks,


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Simple Turmeric Rice Bowls with Quick Pickled Onions & Chickpeas

Simple Turmeric Rice Bowls with Quick Pickled Onions & Chickpeas | The Full Helping

The turmeric rice is these bowls is one of my new favorite staples. It’s flavorful, versatile, and amazingly, it comes together in less than twenty minutes, which means I can make a batch even on a busy weeknight. For the last couple days I’ve been putting it in breakfast tacos (with refried beans, avocado, and a handful of shredded green cabbage), throwing it into salads with black beans or lentils, and–most of all–serving it up in these simple turmeric rice bowls with quick pickled onions & chickpeas.

My vegan lunch bowl tradition emerged out of convenience. It was an easy way for me to use up the disparate batches of dressings, grains, and beans that are always in my fridge, especially after a Sunday of batch cooking for the week ahead. When I was developing recipes for the new book last summer, I realized that bowl recipes aren’t always as simple as the grain/bean/dressing mixtures I’ve come to rely on midday: because they involve a bunch of components, it’s easy to get carried away, and while the finished recipe is incredibly rich and varied, it’s sometimes quite a bit of work to pull off all of the moving parts.

Simple Turmeric Rice Bowls with Quick Pickled Onions & Chickpeas | The Full Helping

This bowl really is low maintenance. The pickled onions take about ten minutes to prepare, tops, and can be pulled off many days in advance. The rice is a twenty minute affair. The chickpeas and spinach need no fussing, though you’re more than welcome to use steamed or sautéed greens or broccoli or zucchini or whatever in place of the raw greens if you like.

And while I couldn’t resist making a batch of my cashew raita to pull it all together (a friend of mine has nicknamed me “sauce boss” because of my obsession with dressings/sauces), you could skip the sauce and spoon some of the pickle brine over the rice and chickpeas instead. Or you could use my tahini mint dressing, turmeric tahini dressing, or tahini goddess dressing. Your favorite chutney would be great, too. Whatever works.

Simple Turmeric Rice Bowls with Quick Pickled Onions & Chickpeas | The Full Helping

For this rice recipe, I prefer to use white rice: white basmati, jasmine, or long-grain white rice will all work well. Part of what I love about the turmeric rice is that it’s so fast, and white rice is what allows for the speedy cooking time. I also love the tenderness of white basmati, the fact that its flavor is mild enough to allow the spices (turmeric, cumin, and coriander) and hint of coconut flavor to shine. If you feel strongly about using brown rice, I recommend brown basmati or long-grain brown rice, and simply know that the cooking time will be about double (thirty-five or forty minutes, rather than twelve to fifteen).

Simple Turmeric Rice Bowls with Quick Pickled Onions & Chickpeas | The Full Helping

Simple Turmeric Rice Bowls with Quick Pickled Onions & Chickpeas

Recipe type: main dish, quick & easy
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, tree nut free option
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4 servings
For the quick pickled red onions (adapted from Cooking Light):
  • 1 small or medium sized red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
For the rice:
  • 2-3 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup white basmati or long-grain white rice*, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes and drained before adding
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups water
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup finely chopped green onion tops (optional)
For the bowls:
  1. To prepare the onions, place the thinly sliced onion in a wide-mouthed, roomy, heat-safe mason jar or other storage container. Place the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Bring the water to boil, then add it to the bowl and whisk until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Stir in the mustard seeds, then pour this whole mixture over the onions. Allow the onions to sit for about 15-20 minutes. They’ll be ready to use, but you can also cover them tightly and refrigerate them for up to a week. The flavors will get more intense as the onions keep.
  2. To prepare the rice, heat 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in a medium sized pot over medium low heat. Add the mustard seeds. When they’ve just started to pop, add the onion. Cook the onion, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until it smells lightly toasted (about 2 minutes).
  3. Add all remaining ingredients to the pot except for the lime juice. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 12 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Remove the rice from heat and allow it to sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice and remove the bay leaf. Squeeze in the lime juice and green onion, if using. If you’d like to add a little moisture, you can drizzle the rice with an additional teaspoon coconut oil. Taste and adjust salt as needed.
  4. Divide the rice into four bowls. Top each with a quarter of the greens and chickpeas and a little scoop of pickled onions. Drizzle with the onion brine or with your dressing of choice. Serve.
*In place of white rice, you can use brown basmati or long-grain brown rice. Simmer the rice for 35-40 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed.

Rice can be made in advance and will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.


 Simple Turmeric Rice Bowls with Quick Pickled Onions & Chickpeas | The Full Helping

I love using the rice in the bowls to create a textured, varied, and complete meal. There’s so much flavor here, from the fragrant, spiced rice to the zippy, tart onions. But the rice also a really worthy side dish: I’d love to try serving it with dal, some oven-baked tofu, or with a simple curry dish. It would even be lovely with some sautéed greens and naan.

You guys will tell me when you’re totally sick of chickpeas, right? I feel as though every other recipe I put on the blog features chickpeas as a protein source 🙂 For the record, cooked lentils, black beans, and kidney beans will work nicely in these bowls, too.

Wishing you all an easy entrance into the week. Happy Monday.


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Weekend Reading, 6.4.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

In the last few months, I’ve been reminded of why we use expressions like “heartache” or “broken heart.” It’s something you forget once your heart has been patched up and healed from whatever its last injury was, but the loss of love can be physically painful. It’s a heaviness, an ache in the chest. We read and hear about this all the time, but somehow it’s always surprising to experience it firsthand.

I was thinking about this when I read Brian Doyle’s 2004 essay on the capacity of the heart—the human heart, but also the varied hearts of other species. Doyle, an essayist and storyteller, passed away just last week at the age of sixty, due to a brain tumor, so the essay was reprinted as a tribute to his work.

Doyle begins by considering the hummingbird, a creature whose heart beats ten times every single second. Hummingbirds have ferocious metabolisms to help propel them through their nimble motions, but it comes at a cost:

The price of their ambition is a life closer to death; they suffer more heart attacks and aneurysms and ruptures than any other living creature. It’s expensive to fly. You burn out. You fry the machine. You melt the engine. Every creature on earth has approximately two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime. You can spend them slowly, like a tortoise and live to be two hundred years old, or you can spend them fast, like a hummingbird, and live to be two years old.

He goes on to note that we all have some sort of interior motion, some central churning or burning of energy that drives us forward:

Mammals and birds have hearts with four chambers. Reptiles and turtles have hearts with three chambers. Fish have hearts with two chambers. Insects and mollusks have hearts with one chamber. Worms have hearts with one chamber, although they may have as many as eleven single-chambered hearts. Unicellular bacteria have no hearts at all; but even they have fluid eternally in motion, washing from one side of the cell to the other, swirling and whirling. No living being is without interior liquid motion. We all churn inside.

I guess this isn’t an essay so much as a reflection, a brief consideration of how even the most diverse of species share an internal epicenter that animates our physical lives. Switching from body to spirit, Doyle notes how fragile the heart can be:

You can brick up your heart as stout and tight and hard and cold and impregnable as you possibly can and down it comes in an instant, felled by a woman’s second glance, a child’s apple breath, the shatter of glass in the road, the words I have something to tell you, a cat with a broken spine dragging itself into the forest to die, the brush of your mother’s papery ancient hand in the thicket of your hair, the memory of your father’s voice early in the morning echoing from the kitchen where he is making pancakes for his children.

I’ve always found it comforting to remember that the heart is a muscle, made for work and strain, thick and resilient. But it’s also true that no amount of musculature or repair stops our hearts from being open and vulnerable to pain—often from unexpected places or seemingly small memories, words, encounters. I like how Doyle illustrates the heart’s durability while also acknowledging its fragility, which never really goes away. And we probably wouldn’t want it to.

I’m glad I found some of Doyle’s work, though I’m sorry I didn’t come across it sooner. And I hope you’ll enjoy his reflection, along with the other articles. First some recipes, starting with breakfast and ending with a stellar dessert.



I haven’t made anything with rhubarb yet this spring, but now is the time, and when I do pick some up at the farmers market, I’ll be baking Alexandra’s beautiful vegan rhubarb streusel cake. It looks like coffee cake, but the base is actually a yeasted spelt dough, so the cake has some lightness to it.

While I’m pretty partial to creamy potato salads, I like ones dressed in vinaigrette, too, and this mustardy springtime mixture from Our Salty Kitchen looks so fresh and tasty.

I love the idea of cooking fava beans, but I’m never entirely sure what to do with them except to make crostini. I love Lisa’s fresh, springy fava bean dip, and I’m especially loving the party-friendly vegan pinwheels she whipped up with it!

I think everyone could use a really great, foolproof curry recipe, or maybe even a few of them. Emily’s really good everyday curry is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an easy, adaptable, stress-free curry for anytime. You can just omit the teaspoon of fish sauce, or you can try making some of your own with this recipe.

If it wasn’t enough to give us a recipe for vegan peanut butter milkshakes (yum!), Jeanine combines it with a recipe for peanut butter oat cookie dough balls, which you can serve with your milkshake and then keep around for sweet snacking. Loving everything about this summery dessert.


1. First, a thought-provoking article about the difficulties gyms and gym personnel face in knowing whether or not to talk to their patrons about eating disorders.

On the one hand, trainers and gym staff are in a unique position to spot exercise bulimia and addiction; on the other hand, there are lots of potential discrimination issues and privacy violations at stake. You can never tell from looking at a person whether he or she is fighting a battle with disordered eating, which makes the business of intervention (at least from outsiders) really tricky. Someone might be a normal weight or overweight by conventional standards and still be in trouble; a person might also be underweight because of an illness or another factor that has nothing to do with an eating disorder.

I took a yoga class last year in which a very underweight person practiced and ultimately had to leave the room. I wondered how the studio and instructor staff must have felt about her taking the class, but I also wondered whether the alternative–confronting her or encouraging her not to practice–would have been better. Something about keeping any person out of a yoga studio feels so wrong.

I was also really surprised at how angry the woman’s presence in the studio seemed to make other practitioners, who spoke about the incident after class. Many people were furious that she had practiced at all. I can definitely understand how the situation might have been triggering or upsetting, but at the same time, I felt an absence of empathy. EDs are mental illnesses, and I doubted that the young woman–assuming she had an eating disorder–wanted to be the center of attention or upset other people. Perhaps she had come to yoga in an effort to treat herself more compassionately, in which case the intention would have been a meaningful one, even if her body wasn’t up for it.

2. An interesting and readable article on allergies and autoimmune diseases in our modern world.

3. This article delves into why many adults continue seeing pediatricians long after their childhood years are over; one reason is that chronic childhood illnesses are better managed now, which means that people live with them longer. They may not wish to switch over to new practitioners if their pediatricians are really intimate with the details of their medical histories.

4. A really troubling article on the global shortage of penicillin–a drug we have enough of, but are failing to make in sufficient volume because it isn’t as profitable as others.

5. Finally, Brian Doyle on the heart.

Hoping you all savor the rest of this Sunday. Tomorrow, I’ll be posting a new bowl recipe, one I like so much that I’ve had it for dinner a couple nights in a row. Stay tuned!


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NYC Vegan’s Black and White Cookies

NYC Vegan's Black and White Cookies | The Full Helping

When I was growing up, my father would pick me up most Sundays and take me to church. We’d get lunch afterwards, usually at one of those iconic NYC delicatessens that are rarer and rarer these days: Wolf’s, the Carnegie Deli, the Westway diner. We’d order stacked sandwiches or platters, but my eyes were usually fixed on the dessert counter, with its rotating displays of cheesecake and pie. And cookies—especially the big, round, pillowy frosted treats known as black-and-white cookies.

So much changed over time, including my diet, and after a while diners and delis weren’t the easiest place for me to eat as a vegan. I forgot about a lot of the New York City specialties I’d grown up with, including black-and-white cookies. My fondness for them hasn’t gone away, though—a fact I’ve been happily reminded of thanks to my friends Ethan and Michael and their new cookbook, NYC Vegan.

NYC Vegan is a celebration of the rich tapestry of dishes and cuisines that converge in New York City’s five boroughs, brought two life by two passionate vegans who have made it their mission to create the city’s most iconic recipes without animal products. Ethan and Michael are also known as the bloggers behind Vegan Mos, where they routinely share tasty, accessible, and globally inspired vegan food.

The book contains vegan versions of such Jewish specialties as blintzes, brisket, mandelbrodt, latkes, matzoh brei, and even a new-fashioned recipe for Jewish “chick’n” soup; old-school New York favorites like “glam” chowder, homemade bagels, Waldorf salad, New York-style pizza, and cheesecake; and a wide sampling of street foods, like soft pretzels, churros, a “meat” platter, Italian ice, falafel, zeppoles, and street fair corn.

The book is also a culinary tour of some of New York’s most diverse and culturally rich neighborhoods. Ethan and Michael have recipes for pierogi, knishes, arroz con maiz, mofongo, crispy ginger seitan, and even a vegan avgolemono, which of course I’m dying to try.

More than anything, this book is a tribute to the idea of a melting pot. It’s a heartfelt celebration of what it means to live in a place where cultures and traditions converge—an “homage to diversity,” as Ethan and Michael describe it in their introduction.

A vegan rendering of this idea is so necessary, because—at least in my experience—one of the main barriers people come up against when they’re contemplating the switch to a vegan diet is the fear that the lifestyle won’t be compatible with their culture of origin and the recipes that spring from it. My own thought process around this has always been that beloved dishes can be authentically created with plant-based ingredients. But it’s one thing to hear this perspective stated and another to see it brought to life with vibrant and diverse recipes.

The book features evocative photos from the super-talented Jackie Sobon, a preface by actor Alan Cumming, and a heartfelt introduction from Ethan and Michael that describes how they came to write about New York and its food. The book also has an afterword in which Ethan and Michael share why veganism matters to them and how compassion for animals fits into the spirit of diversity and connection that they’re celebrating with the cookbook.

One thing I love about Ethan and Michael’s food is that it’s incredibly flavorful while also being simple to make. The recipes in NYC Vegan are intuitive and easy to follow, and they feature easy-to-find vegan ingredients and household staples.

It was hard to choose which recipe to make first from the book, because so many of them took me back to being a kid and experiencing my city through diner and deli countertops and booths. The Manhattan “glam” chowder, tempeh reuben, falafel, and seitan piccata are all high on my list. I’ve had the pleasure of tasting Ethan and Michael’s sun-dried tomato spread and kale salad, both of which are featured in the book, and I know how good they are.

NYC Vegan's Black and White Cookies | The Full Helping

But in the end, I kept coming back to these cookies and all of the powerful nostalgia that they carry for me. As you’ll see, the cookie recipe itself is so simple; it’s the icing bit that’s tricky. “Perfectly imperfect” would be a very generous way of describing how my own icing job turned out, but it doesn’t matter: the cookies taste great, every bit as good as I remember.

Some black-and-white cookies are sort of like shortbread; these are more pillowy and tender. They remind me of a slightly firmer and fluffier version of snickerdoodles–sweet, with big hints of vanilla. They’re perfect for pairing with an afternoon cup of coffee, or for an after-dinner treat.

Vegan Black and White Cookies

Recipe type: dessert, cookie
Cuisine: vegan, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Ethan Ciment and Michael Suchman
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 18 cookies
For the cookies:
  • 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup nondairy butter
  • ¼ cup nondairy milk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the icing:
  • 3½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup boiling water, plus more if needed
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup nondairy semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 (18 x 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In another large bowl, combine the sugar and butter and beat until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in batches, beating after each addition, until combined.
  3. Scoop the dough, ¼ cup at a time, onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the scoops 3 inches apart. Flatten them slightly with your hands (keep your hands wet to prevent the dough from sticking). Allow room between the scoops as the cookies will spread as they bake.
  4. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cookies to cool 2 minutes on the baking sheets and then carefully flip the cookies over and transfer them, upside down, to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. While the cookies are cooling, make the icing. In a large mixing bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, boiling water, and vanilla. Mix well to get a spreadable icing. Add a little more water, if needed. Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of icing onto the flat side, the former bottom, of each cookie. Return the cookies to the wire rack to dry. You should have about ½ cup of icing left.
  6. While the white icing is drying, melt the chocolate chips in a microwave or double boiler. When the chips are all melted and smooth, whisk the melted chocolate into the remaining icing. The chocolate icing should be thicker than the white, but still be spreadable. If it is too thick, add a little hot water to thin it out. Use the offset spatula to frost one half of each cookie over the white icing. Return the cookies to the wire racks to dry. Store leftovers in a covered container for up for 5 days.
From NYC Vegan, copyright © 2017 by Michael Suchman and Ethan Ciment. Used by permission.

NYC Vegan's Black and White Cookies | The Full Helping

As Ethan and Michael note, these cookies were once only found in New York City bakeries and restaurants. Nowadays they’re everywhere, including grocery stores and bodegas. There’s something so special about a local specialty that becomes ubiquitous like this; when I lived in DC, I missed being able to walk into the corner store and see a plastic-wrapped black-and-white cookie next to the cash register.

Ethan and Michael are two of the most generous, passionate activists I know, and this book captures all of their love and heart. It’s a pleasure to read and a pleasure to cook through–especially since flipping through its pages means touching upon so many cherished recipes from different cultures. I’m happy to be sharing a giveaway copy of NYC Vegan with one US or Canadian reader today. Simply enter below to win, and I’ll announce the winner on the widget in a week!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Ethan and Michael for the giveaway, and for sharing a little slice of the Big Apple with us. I’ll be circling back around this weekend with the usual roundup of reads. For now, happy Friday.


Latkes, pretzels, street fair corn, cheesecake, and chowder images by Jackie Sobon, reprinted with permission from NYC Vegan.

The post NYC Vegan’s Black and White Cookies appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Fattoush Nachos with Crispy Za’atar Roasted Chickpeas

 Fattoush Nachos with Crispy Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas | The Full Helping

A couple days ago, I mentioned that I’ve been making an effort to share my food lately, to welcome friends into my home. This has me thinking about dishes that lend themselves to gatherings, including appetizers and finger food. My go-to has always been a solid, reliable hummus plate: a creamy batch of homemade hummus (sweet potato is my favorite lately), pita wedges, and plenty of raw veggies. But it’s fun to branch out. These fattoush nachos with crispy za’atar roasted chickpeas feature some of the same ingredients and flavors as my standard hummus platters, but they’re bustling with texture and packed with nutritious fixings.

Fattoush Nachos with Crispy Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas | The Full Helping
Fattoush Nachos with Crispy Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas | The Full Helping

Two things make this recipe what it is: the crispy roasted chickpeas, which are seasoned with za’atar spice and cumin, and the addition of a great, herbaceous sauce. I used my tahini goddess dressing, but my tahini mint dressing would be equally great (and would nicely compliment the mint in the recipe).

Fattoush Nachos with Crispy Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas | The Full Helping

I cut whole wheat pita (with pockets or without) into wedges and toast it in the oven for this recipe: it only takes a couple minutes, and you can take care of it while you also roast the chickpeas. The result is pita chips that are super crispy at the edges and nicely tender at the center, which I love. To save time, though–and for lots of extra crunch–it would be just fine to use your favorite brand of pita chips. Lots of pita chip recipes call for oil and spices, but I actually like the simplicity of letting them get crispy without adding anything first; the tahini sauce and other toppings give the chips plenty of flavor when the whole recipe is plated.

Once your chips are ready, you pile them high with a fresh salad of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and herbs, the crispy chickpeas, and then drizzle the whole plate generously with your sauce. Serve these nachos with plenty of napkins, since they’re messy in the best possible way!

Fattoush Nachos with Crispy Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas | The Full Helping

Fattoush Nachos with Crispy Za’atar Roasted Chickpeas

Recipe type: side dish, main dish
Cuisine: vegan, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 6 servings
  • 2 large or 4 mini whole wheat pitas (about 4 ounces total), cut into wedges, or 2-3 cups pita chips of choice
  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon za’atar spice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Coarse salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped cucumber
  • 1½ cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1½ cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 batch tahini green goddess dressing or tahini mint dressing
  1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Place the pita chips on one lined baking sheet. Toss the chickpeas with 1 tablespoon olive oil, the za’atar spice, and the cumin. Place the chickpeas on another lined baking sheet and sprinkle them with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Transfer both sheets to the oven. Bake the pita chips for 5-7 minutes, or until they’re crispy at the edges (check them at 5 minutes to be sure they don’t burn). Bake the chickpeas for 30-35 minutes, or until they’re crispy and golden.
  2. While the chickpeas and pita are baking, toss the cucumbers, tomato, lettuce, parsley, and mint together with the remaining tablespoon olive oil, the red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. To serve, layer the pita chips in a large tray. Layer the cucumber and tomato salad on top, followed by the roasted chickpeas. Drizzle the whole tray generously with your dressing of choice. Serve.
The crispy chickpeas can be made one day in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. The dressing can be made up to four days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

 Fattoush Nachos with Crispy Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas | The Full Helping

I guess this recipe is a no brainer for me: tahini, mint, Middle Eastern spices, bready things…so many of my favorites in one place. The dish has plenty of appetizer/snacking potential, but it’s also hearty and varied enough to make a good meal, or part of a meal, if you give yourself a generous portion. I think it would be a great lunch summer lunch, maybe with a cup of lentil soup. And if you’re so inclined, it’s totally worth making a double batch of the chickpeas. They make for awesome snacking, salad topping, bowls, and so on…if you don’t accidentally eat most of them while they’re still on the baking sheet 🙂

I’ll be circling back later this week with a sweet treat that’s packed with nostalgia and local NYC pride. Can’t wait to share! For now, be well.


The post Fattoush Nachos with Crispy Za’atar Roasted Chickpeas appeared first on The Full Helping.

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